Utah State Football Has Questions To Answer Against Iowa Hawkeyes

Aug 30, 2023, 9:16 AM | Updated: 11:04 am

LOGAN, Utah – While the Utah State offense prepares to take on a difficult Hawkeyes defense, the USU defense faces a tough test of its own as they integrate seven new starters on that side of the ball.

Utah State takes on the No. 25 Hawkeyes in Iowa City, IA on Saturday, September 2. Kickoff is scheduled for 10:03 a.m. (MT).

Entering his third season at the helm of the good ship Aggie, Blake Anderson joined KSL Sports Zone’s DJ & PK on Monday, August 28 to talk about the season opener.

RELATED: 2023 Utah State Aggies Football Schedule

Anderson begins the season with a 19-14 overall record at Utah State but this team is light years different from the team that lost to Memphis in the SERVPRO First Responders Bowl last December.

The Aggies have brought in 59 newcomers this season, including 31 on defense.

“It’s a lot of new bodies,” Anderson said about his defense. “(We’re) trying to throw of lot of guys at the problem to stay fresh. We really don’t know who’s gonna step up and truly be a huge impact.”

RELATED: How To Watch Utah State Football @ Iowa Hawkeyes

Banged up and questionable for the opener, senior defensive tackle Hale Motu’apuaka anchors the defensive line. Senior MJ Tafisi Jr. is back from injury to take the reigns at linebacker; and the secondary returns senior Michael Anyanwu at corner and redshirt sophomore Ike Larsen patrols the backend at safety.

Around those four is a collection of new players looking to make an impact for Utah State.

“A ton of transfers, new bodies to work with. They’re all probably play in some capacity. We don’t know what we’re going to look like until we get out there,” Anderson finished.

RELATED: Utah State Football Has Questions To Answer Against Iowa Hawkeyes

Utah State Hoping To Have Struck Gold In Transfer Portal

With 39 new scholarship players, the Aggie coaching staff knew they had their work cut out for them in preparing for the season. To help with the problem, USU recruiters brought in 30 transfer players with at least a season of college football experience and maturity.

“We felt that the JUCO ranks were a little undervalued,” Anderson commented. “Everybody’s so worried about the transfer portal that we found some value. We think those guys can help.”

RELATED: Utah State Releases Depth Chart For Week One @ Iowa Hawkeyes

Take a look at the Aggies first two-deep depth chart of the year and you can see what Anderson is talking about.

On offense, former Arizona State Sun Devil Ralph Frias III is listed as the starting left tackle. Backup running backs Davon Booth and Rahsul Faison are each junior college transfers. In the wide receiver room, Kahanu Davis, Micah Davis, Grant Page, and Colby Bowman all spent time with other programs before joining Utah State.

Defensively, senior transfer Anthony Switzer is scheduled to make his first start in Aggie blue after an injury kept him out last season. Javar Strong will start at safety next to Ike Larsen. In the secondary alone, six of the ten players listed on the depth chart have transferred in.

RELATED: Utah State Ready To Test Themselves Against Iowa Hawkeyes

Using wide receiver Terrell Vaughn as a comparison, Anderson explained how he hopes the Aggies can improve this season.

“Terrell was a good player early in the year. He was starting to look like a great player late. If we can speed up that curve for some of these guys, that will be super helpful. If not, it’s a process and we’ll get out of them what we can early and let them grow up.”

Aggie Depth Report

  • Senior safety Omari Okeke has been lost for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery.
  • Safety Anthony Switzer is expected to make his Aggie debut against the Hawkeyes after missing last season due to a knee injury. Switzer is listed as a starting linebacker on USU’s initial depth chart.
  • Redshirt freshman Paul Fitzgerald is listed as a starting defensive end ahead of week one against Iowa. Fitzgerald saw action in two games as a true freshman without recording a stat.
  • Defensive tackle Hale Motu’apuaka and tight end Broc Lane are both day-to-day with injuries.
  • Anderson said he expects to be without starting tight end Josh Sterzer for the first couple of weeks ‘at a minimum’. True freshman Will Monney is listed as the Aggies third tight end and could see some snaps if Lane is unavailable

Following The Aggies With KSL Sports Zone

Utah State begins the 2023 campaign with a road test against the No. 25 Hawkeyes. Iowa hosts the Aggies on Saturday, September 2 with a 10 a.m. (MT) season-opening kickoff.

Utah State football games are found on KSL Sports Zone with Scott Garrard and former Aggie quarterback Kevin White (1988-89) on the call.

KSL Sports coverage of Utah State University Athletics can be found here. 

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Utah State Football Has Questions To Answer Against Iowa Hawkeyes